1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass 3.4 DOHC


Handles great, but isn't reliable


Alternator at 112000 miles.

Brakes twice once at 113000 and one at 113500.

Transmission at 120000.

Exhaust at 121000.

Rarely starts and if does won't run for long.

Battery at 125000.

Interior fell apart at every mile.

Wouldn't start leaving the lot due to no fuel.

Then had to be towed home from middle of intersection right after we bought it on the way home from the lot. due too bad spark plugs.

General Comments:

Very comfortable car, but the only time I'm in the seat its because the car broke down on a trip.

Handles very well and turns on a dime.

The only big problem is reliability.

I wouldn't trust the car as far as I can"push" it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd February, 2006

4th Feb 2006, 08:41

"The only big problem is reliability.

I wouldn't trust the car as far as I can"push" it."

- Well, it had 111,000 miles on it when you bought it. Not exactly a new car!

4th Feb 2006, 18:19

To the one who wrote the previous comment: I was not the one who wrote the review on the car.

Not all of us, like me, can afford to buy a new car so we must buy one used.

All of my cars have had over 100K on them, some with over 200K.

Most of them have been very good with very few problems.

Does not have to be new to be dependable!

30th Dec 2006, 21:29

Obviously it was a USED car. It seems as though the owner didn't have it checked by a mechanic.

In addition, the Alternator going at 112000 Miles and a battery? Common.

Plus 120000 for an exhaust system. That is great!!! My Mazda needed a new exhaust at 80000 Kilometers... That cost over $1000!

A tranny at 120000. Not bad, but did the original owner change the fluid???

1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme SL 3.1L OHV V6


Beats an Accord, hands down


Water pump failed at 85,000 miles. Yes, I bought it at 89,000, but I knew the previous owner.

Neither I nor the original owner ever changed spark plugs on this car, and I let it go for 5,500 miles without an oil change, so the engine blew at 105,000. New engine (exact replacement) works fine. The moral is, change your plugs well before 100,000 and oil every 3000 or 4000, no matter what the manufacturer says.

Center console cover has cracked after 14 years of legendary Alabama winters. All other vinyl okay.

Um...it uses gas. I'd be happier if it ran on happiness, which doesn't cost 3 bucks per gallon. Also, it exists in linear time, and will get old, so I'll eventually have to replace it.

General Comments:

The example said to say "This car is seriously quick and handles like it's on rails." So there it is. In truth, the car holds its own in the newer car market. For those who care, it can do 60mph in 7.5 with the auto. With mine being 14 years old, it probably can't anymore. Flooring it will produce excellent acceleration along with quite a racket from the engine. Governor sets max speed at 125, but I've never been there to see it. Car feels confident at 105mph, the fastest I dared to go with our wonderful Alabama lawmen around. The engine uses old pushrod technology, which car mags seem to hate, but the new Corvette uses pushrod rather than DOHC, so whatever. Both ways work. All accounts I've read agree that pushrod engines produce loads of torque at low engine speeds, and this car is no exception.

DISCLAIMER: The following portion of this review will not be well received by die-hard Japanese car fans. Keep in mind, all this is my opinion; I welcome comments expressing yours.

Bottom line, no Accord or Altima can compare to this car overall. And I mean my 1992 model versus a new (1999 or later) Accord or Altima. I don't say Camry, because the newer Camry models are boring, yes, but comfortable and competent. And, they doesn't claim to be speed racers, like some others.

The Cutlass Supreme has a highway ride beaten only by newer GM sedans, or top-model Japanese cars (Lexus, Acura, etc.). Of course, pretty much any German manufacturer makes a better-riding, just plain better car, but that's OK, as they've built reputations through decades of quality cars, not with noisy commercials showing a Civic flying through the air like Spiderman.

My car is the "base" Cutlass Supreme, which in Honda terms means no A/C, base radio, and power nothing until recently. In a base Altima (2.5, no S), this means no A/C and no stereo. In my car, this means cassette/radio (1992, remember), A/C, cruise, V6, power everything. And that was 14 years ago (1992 model sold in '91).

As stated above, performance is fine. On paper, this car's 140hp and 185 lb-ft of torque cannot match any V6 today, but it gets power quickly, and has a well-geared transmission. Matches 2005 Accord V6 0-60 (testing by Edmunds.com), as a result of low-end pushrod power. An Altima 3.5 SE is faster at 6.8 (auto), but that low gearing means it's turning 2700 rpm at 70 mph, with its vaunted 250hp, while my smaller 3.1L turns 2200rpm. By comparison, the well-geared Accord V6 turns 1700 at 60mph; mine turns 2000 (see, I'm not a total Honda hater). As far as "refinement," a favorite term among car mags, the Cutlass would be peerless in the Japanese family-car(around $25,000) market. I know, it's impossible for an American car to be good in any way, but my big, gas-guzzling, capitalist-pig, unrefined American boat is smoother, quieter, and more comfortable than any Accord I've been in (lack of experience with Altimas).

If I get in the mood to race my Cutlass, then I'm an idiot and should see a counselor. A 7.5 second 0-60 time is nothing to brag about, yet some carmakers sell much slower cars as high-performance street racers. My car's fair amount of real-world power means I don't have to slow down to get up a hill, not that it's a "stoplight drag race" contest. It's funny to me that my "old man sedan" is just as fast as these new "hot hatches" (Focus SVT, Sentra Spec-v ABCD whatever, Lancer Ralliart, Civic Si). Maybe I should get a big aluminum wing and rice-can muffler, as my car seems to have performance qualifications.

Okay, that last bit was unnecessary. Anyway, the Cutlass Supreme has 15.9 feet of trunk space, a 17.1 gallon tank, and gets about 21.5 mpg in the city if driven well (I've gotten as low as 17.9 driving poorly), and 30 highway at 70 mph or so. After all my import-hating comments above, I should note that while my car was in the shop for 6 weeks (never use an auto shop in Alabama. The stories are true.), I drove a loaner 1988 Accord DX with a 2.0L carbureted 4-cyl and 98hp. That car, with its 5-speed manual, impressed me a great deal more than any recent Honda I've been in. I think I now understand why people love new Hondas. They drove cars like that '88 Accord before. With "only" 98 hp, it never felt out of power, and I found myself going up mild hills in 5th gear at 40mph! Without slowing down! Awesome. It's rpm-to-MPH relationships in various gears were almost identical to my larger V6. But it seems the new Hondas have taken a few steps down since then.

Okay, this review has been really long, and strayed from the subject at hand, sort of. But consider that this car ran for 85,000 miles without a single problem. Routine maintenance (oil, tires) only. Few, if any, new "ultra-reliable" Japanese cars can match that. If I have to get another car, I'll first look for the other GM versions of the Cutlass design, the Buick Century or maybe Chevy Malibu. Oh yeah, a Ford Taurus would be fine too.

And as this last type of comment seems to generate lots of response, I must remind all "import tuner" owners that my old-man car will smoke your stupid Civic Si or Sentra Spec-V 12345 whatever. Think about that when you rev your weed-whacker engine at stoplights next to real cars.

Data on other cars was taken mostly from Edmunds.com, and the "import tuner" info can be found at Motor Trend.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd October, 2005

23rd Oct 2005, 11:48

I have looked into buying an older Cutlass of that generation and they do look like good cars. Certainly better than a Lumina or a Grand Prix sedan.

24th Oct 2005, 05:53

I am in complete agreement with your review. I like it a lot, and yes, the Cutlass Supreme is a very nice, quick vehicle. My sister has a 96 with the 3.1, and I was amazed at how that gets up and goes. It has 113,000 miles and very little in the way of maintenance. Personally, I have a 91 Chevy Lumina, which is the Chevy version of your car, and it has 372,000 miles, still running strong on it's original engine. Second transmission, but still, I think it's doing really well. I have put extremely little amounts of money into the Lumina, and I think it has paid for itself 10 times over. I know for a fact that what you are saying about the power of these old 3.1 engines is true. My Lumina has that motor. Gotta love 'em! Great review!!